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Illegal Vessel Intercepted on April 5, 2019 and Ongoing Repatriation

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#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands — The Ministry of Immigration, Citizenship, Labour and Employment Services wishes to update the public on matter related to illegal migrants.

During the early morning of Sunday April 5, 2020, a vessel with forty-four (44) illegal migrants (thirty-eight (38) males and six (6) females) was intercepted by the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force through the detection of the Coastal Radar. They have been taken into detention and processed by Immigration and Medical personnel and declared fit to travel.

We are extremely pleased to inform the public that permission was sought and granted yesterday to repatriate all of our detainees of the various illegal vessels. Hence, those who were caught early this morning will join the one hundred and eighty-one (181) Haitian Nationals who were held at our Detention Centers due to interception by the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force Marine Branch and the Immigration Department Enforcement Unit from the various landings. All detainees were screened and cleared for repatriation as no one was displaying or complaining of any CONVID-19 symptoms as was confirmed by our Medical Team.

Today, Sunday, April 05th 2020 at about 9:00 a.m. all two hundred twenty-five (225) detainees began to be repatriated to Cap Haitian via charters on our two main airlines namely Caicos Express and Inter-Caribbean Airlines.

Hon. Vaden Williams, Minister of Immigration, Citizenship, Labour and Employment Services stated: It’s my aim to have all of our illegal detainees repatriated today. This is an expensive task but one that must be taken in order to protect the lives of our people.

“Soon you will hear of measures being put into place to protect these islands and its people. Measures such as but not limited to:- time limits on work permits; the closing down of first time work permits; enforcement operations and rids crafted to rid these island of illegal migrants”. He went on to say: “The time has come when we must ask if certain Consuls are welcome here! I have had enough of this illegal problem and vessels landings and I am sure the people as well. So note if anyone found with illegal immigrants whether at their residence, personal vehicles or place of work, shall be persecuted to the fullest extent of the law and those who are on work permits or other permits, recommendations shall be made for these status to be revoked.”  


Hon. Williams further stated: “I ask you the people to remain calm and report any suspicious movement to 911. My Officers are out there and doing a great job and I say thanks to all of them. I ask our people to support them where you can, as we work together to clean our country and keep our people safe and healthy”.

In addition, the Border Control Detention Centre is the main holding facility and currently is also holding twenty-eight (28) Sri Lankan Nationals and one (1) Indian National, awaiting repatriation which has been delayed due to COVID- 19 worldwide travel restrictions.

The continued illegal vessel landings and repatriation has again costs the Turks and Caicos Islands Government in excess of US$2.5 million from the Immigration Department alone during the last Financial Year 2019/2020. This does not take into consideration the human and other agencies costs aligned with illegal migration.

The Enforcement agencies of the Turks and Caicos Islands are again asking anyone with information concerning planned and landed arrival of other vessels, poachers and any suspicious movements of persons to contact the Police anonymously on 911 or Crime Stoppers anonymously on 1-800-8477. Tips can be submitted anonymously in English, French or Spanish on either www.crimestoppers.tc or on Facebook as a fan of Crime Stoppers Turks & Caicos. Crime Stoppers tips are received in the USA.

The public is also reminded that it is an offence to harbour illegal persons and that persons found guilty engaging in such activities are liable to a fine of US$20,000 or a term of imprisonment of four years, or both in accordance with the Immigration Ordinance 2018 or any law.  The public is also reminded that assisting illegal entry is a criminal offence and persons found engaging in such activities will receive the full extent of the law.

Through this medium the Ministry of Immigration, Citizenship, Labour and Employment Services wishes to thank all Agencies who worked alongside them to ensure this repatriation took place. This include but not limited to the Governor’s Office; Office of the Premier and Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Health and Tourism; the Airlines; Ministry of Immigration Staff; the Haitian Government and all others including the general public.

Press Release issued Sunday April 5, 2020

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Health

Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.

A Ministry of Health press release informed that the individual who was in quarantine in Grand Turk and requested emergency aid on Tuesday; response came from the public health team in Grand Turk.

The person, who we are told is a special needs young woman – was unvaccinated and had underlying medical conditions.

The death rate in the Turks and Caicos of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons has climbed alarmingly this year.  In the 21-month period from March 2020 when the country recorded its first case to December 2021, there were 26 deaths recorded in the TCI.

In the 19 days since the start of 2022 that number has increased to 32; which means six deaths already in January.

 

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources  

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – Sargassum, also known as seaweed, is a natural brown macroalga that lives in temperate and tropical oceans of the world. The floating micro eco-system is important to many species, including baby turtles, little crabs, and tiny fish. All these animals use the floating rafts of the sargassum for protection, shelter, and food.

Over the years, sargassum has been increasing its quantity in the Caribbean due to climate change. As water temperatures increase, sargassum blooms, and as this continues, it occurs in large amounts. This can be dangerous for some marine life because when seaweed washes up on the shore, some species become trapped in the sargassum mat.

Environmental Outreach Coordinator at the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources for TCI, Amy Avenant, says the Turks and Caicos Islands has not seen the worst of the overgrowth.

“In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we have not seen the full severity of sargassum blooms. Our neighbours in Bonaire, for example, experience up to six feet of sargassum, and they have found stranded dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes even birds,” said Amy Avenant.

“When the sargassum washes up on shore, it starts to decompose, and when it decomposes, it emits methane, and that is the stinky sulfuric eggy smell that you can smell when you walk past it on the beach. It is a bad thing for climate change because of the methane, but it is not harmful to your health.”

Turks and Caicos saw this in extreme amounts in October; so severe, resorts were forced to bag and bury the stinky seaweed which for over a week covered the usually sandy white stretch of Grace Bay beach.

Avenant noted that in the TCI, we have a balance between managing the influx of sargassum and impacting the areas where it lands because its influx is correlated to the cycles of the moon.

She also said sargassum can be used as a fertilizer in farming. If you collect it, the advice is to spread it out and ensure you wash the excess salt off before adding to your gardens or farms.

There are also hidden dangers and habitat threats to the piles of sargassum on shorelines.

Avenant informed, when you see sargassum on the beach, ensure you watch out for wildlife that might be stuck and species which might have made a home of the ocean’s deposit which has washed up, this is heightened on rocky shores.

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